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April 30, 2011

"Co-Victims Against the Death Penalty"

The title of this post is the headline of this new editorial in the New York Times.  Here are excerpts:

As the country has increasingly turned against capital punishment as barbaric and horrifyingly prone to legal abuses, defenders are pointing to the emotional needs of the families of murder victims — “co-victims” to those who study crime — as justification. Many family members, however, have said they want no part of that.

When New Jersey abolished the death penalty in 2007 and New Mexico did in 2009, each did so with the support of co-victims. In Connecticut, the Legislature’s joint Judiciary Committee has now approved a bill that would repeal that state’s death penalty, again with the support of victims’ families.

The family members say that rather than providing emotional closure, the long appeals process in death penalty cases is actually prolonging their suffering.  They also say it wastes money and unjustifiably elevates some murders above others in importance. In an open letter to the Connecticut Legislature, relatives of murder victims — 76 parents, children and others — wrote that “the death penalty, rather than preventing violence, only perpetuates it and inflicts further pain on survivors.”...

We do not minimize the suffering of family members, wherever they stand on the issue. But the facts are undeniable.  The death penalty does not deter crime and the long history of legal abuses is well documented.  Connecticut’s full Legislature should pass the repeal bill and Gov. Dannel Malloy should sign it into law.

April 30, 2011 at 02:23 PM | Permalink


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Pro-murderer co-victims should understand they are assassinating future victims by their stance. There are four times as many murders in prison as there are executions. In abolitionist states, the murderer has absolute immunity for all crimes after the first murder. If multiple murders is a potential aggravating factor, in abolitionist states, serial killers will be encouraged to be as productive as possible after the first one, because they are additional pleasure and fun that are absolutely cost and risk free.

I know Prof. Berman likes to be provocative with idiotic left wing claims, but the NYT has zero credibility. Claims Soviets invented lipstick in Pravda have more credibility. One can find Jews who became Nazis. Is that support for Nazification? No. It is support for the caning of the traitor rat bastards.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 30, 2011 2:37:23 PM

The murder rate inside prisons is several times higher than it is in a bad black neighborhood. That tells us that it is the people, and not the circumstances that are the problem. With these offenders, you could have prison conditions in a neighborhood, and the murder rate would still be too high. If you could have neighborhoods live in cages, get patrolled, have security cameras everywhere, and immediate, crushing responses to the slightest disturbance. you still could not suppress the murder rate.

One environmental coincidence? Those South and Central American countries are even more overlawyered than we are. South and Central America countries have very high murder rates, higher than ours in our prisons. Theirs contrast to the very low rates in even poorer countries elsewhere.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 1, 2011 6:37:43 AM

Tell me this, SC, do you grieve for all inmates murdered in prison or only those with just one or two previous convictions?

Likening "co-victims" who oppose state-orchestrated killings to Jews who became Nazis seems a tad extreme even for you, Mr. 1-2-3D.

Posted by: John K | May 1, 2011 6:54:10 AM

John: I have to retract that analogy, out of respect to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, with my sincere apology.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 1, 2011 9:04:52 AM

Small reminder. The arrests, mass extermination, and seizure of assets of all the targets of the Nazis, without proof of a crime or a trial, violated written German law until changed in 1943. These seizures were made possible by the German equivalent of judicial review. Legal realism views originated and stemmed from the German Free Law Movement, seeking to liberate the law from its restrictive writing. This judiciary was hanged en masse after Nuremberg.

Before getting too huffy about the German judiciary, look in the mirror. Under legal realism regime, the death warrants of hundreds of thousands viable babies has been signed by our Supreme Court. They immunized prosecutors, and their agents, the police, from liability for the 5000 extra deaths of black males each year. Over 50 years, that amounts to 250,000 extra murders.

One difference between ours and the Nazi judiciary? They had one dissenter, offered retirement or the firing squad. To my knowledge, we have no dissenter from legal realism.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 1, 2011 10:59:04 AM


(Doug, Kent, Bill...please note the future.)

Posted by: Anon | May 1, 2011 2:57:27 PM

John K was right to request a withdrawal and SC was right to give it.

To say that I often disagree with each of them is more than an understatement, but both tend to address issues rather than persons, and to do it in a civil tongue, which makes it possible to talk with them.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 1, 2011 3:08:09 PM

The living murderer generates massive government sinecures for the left wing government dependent worker. The murder victim generates nothing and may rot.

I demand all such advocacy contain a disclosure that abolition will promote the economic interests of the advocates, and the economic conflict of interest should be taken into consideration by the viewer before believing it. The absence of such a disclaimer makes all such propaganda in bad faith and misleading the public.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 1, 2011 3:09:39 PM

Perhaps the co-victims should spend more time contacting their legislators about endless appeals.

Posted by: DaveP | May 1, 2011 5:00:34 PM

DaveP --

And there's this: Those who do their utmost to prolong the process have little standing to complain about the costs to victims of prolonging the process.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 1, 2011 5:47:26 PM

Discussing Connecticut, what is the status of the inmates' appeals? Have any reached postconviction, federal court? The only execution they had was voluntary.

Posted by: DaveP | May 1, 2011 7:23:54 PM

What I find interesting is that I don't see the NYTimes worried about the effect on the co-victims when some federal court decides to grant a stay where the defendant's attorney filed a strategic last-minute motion.

Posted by: federalist | May 1, 2011 9:00:00 PM

So, if I understand the NY Times editorial page's view: "The views of the families are important and to be given great weight, but only insofar they are in accord with what we've already determined to be the right outcome; otherwise, we do not minimize their suffering but obviously cannot allow their views to be given much weight."

Posted by: guest | May 2, 2011 1:00:09 PM

DaveP asks, "Discussing Connecticut, what is the status of the inmates' appeals? Have any reached postconviction, federal court?"

Yes, no.

The NYT's statement that it is an undeniable fact that the death penalty does not deter is a flat-out falsehood. The academic debate continues, and nobody reputable on either side claims that their side has been definitively proved.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | May 3, 2011 1:08:07 AM

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